This post was written by Hatchet reporter Marty Fenn.
The Colonials head to Richmond this weekend as the top seed for the A-10 conference tournament, after winning the head-to-head tiebreaker over Duquesne and Saint Louis on the last day of the season, as Duquesne lost to St. Bonaventure.
The Colonials finished the season with consecutive wins over the Patriots and Richmond, and went 7-3 in the last 10 games of the season, all without the presence of all-conference second team forward Jonquel Jones. Jones could return, as she has reportedly been making progress and participating in practices, would be a boon for the Colonials, who enter the postseason seeking redemption for their first-round exit in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
The Colonials earned an automatic bye into the quarterfinal round on Friday, taking on No. 9 seed George Mason at 11 a.m., but they could be pitted against some intriguing adversaries in future rounds as well – even though rival Dayton, the No. 8 seed entering the tournament, is already out thanks to the Patriots.
Teams to Watch:
No. 4 St. Bonaventure/ No. 5 VCU: Both teams would be a tough semifinal for the Colonials, should any of the three teams get to that point. GW fell in consecutive games to both teams, including an overtime loss to the Bonnies despite winning the rebounding battle 49-30 and shooting 8-13 from the three-point line. The Colonials committed 20 turnovers in that game.
VCU was the other team to gain the rebounding edge over the Colonials, and have an interesting dynamic in that their guards possess strong rebounding abilities, much like the Colonials. The Rams shoot over 40 percent from the field, while holding opponents to just 55.3 points per game, and forcing over 17 turnovers a game. With their ability to matchup in the rebounding department and force turnovers, the Rams pose a strong challenge to the Colonials.
No. 3 Duquesne/No. 2 Saint Louis: How will the Dukes respond to losing out on sole possession of the regular-season title in the final game of the year? Look for Duquesne to come out with a vengeance. This team can score, and they can definitely crash the boards, as proved by conference Co-Player of the Year April Robinson’s stat line (15.3 ppg, 6.6 ast, 6.1 rbs). Although the Colonials defeated Duquesne 70-52 on the road in January, Jonquel Jones dominated that game with 23 points and 18 rebounds, and the Dukes shot just 30 percent, which were both huge in the final result. Don’t expect such a blowout if these two teams meet in the final, especially with Jones’ status still uncertain.
As for the Billikens, it took a superb double-double performance from Lauren Chase (19 pts, 10 ast, 1 TO) and efficiency in the paint and past the three-point line for the Colonials to pull off an 89-80 win. The Billikens possess a lethal inside-out combination, with guard and Co-Player of the Year Jackie Kemph controlling the perimeter and All-Conference Third Teamer Sadie Stipanovich filling it up in the paint. Stipanovich scored at will in the second half against GW, who had a hard time deciding on a defensive scheme to counter the Billikens’ offensive attack. If these two meet, the final could be quite explosive.
Potential Sleeper: Fordham
A lot hinges on whether or not Jones returns. If she is able to play immediately the Colonials should be a huge favorite to at least reach the final, if not to win the tournament. That being said, the A-10 has had loads of twists and turns, and anything could happen.